Thursday, January 28, 2016

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 231

 Painting of the Battle of San Jacinto, by Henry A. McArdle, 1895

The banner at the top of this unused linen-type C.T. Art-Colortone postcard, by Curt Teich & Co., Chicago, identifies the painting found in the Texas State Capitol at Austin as the Battle of San Jacinto that occurred on 21 April 1836.  The painting was photographed by Ellison to be made into the card. 

The card has a divided back with the number 5A-H2401 at the lower right corner.  Several postcard companies used coded letter and number systems to date their cards making it sometimes possible to narrow the time when it was published.  In this case the 5A tells us that the card was produced in 1935 and the H identifies it as Colortone or Colorit, both processes exclusive to Curtis Teich & Company.  Colortone was a five-color process made on linen finish stock from a black and white photo.  Colorit was a similar process but with a deckle or ragged edge to the cards. 

Battle statistics are printed on the reverse of the card showing it lasted 18 minutes and won independence for Texas from Mexico resulting in the following casualties: Texans – 2 killed, 23 wounded; Mexicans – 630 killed, 228 wounded, 780 captured.  Other accounts give 11 Texans killed or fatally wounded, 30 wounded; 650 Mexicans killed with 208 wounded and 300 captured.  

Henry Arthur McArdle (1836-1908) also known as Harry McArdle was an American painter born in Ireland of French and Irish ancestry who came to the United States as a teenager to study at the Maryland Institute College of Art.  During the Civil War he was a cartographer under Robert E. Lee.  After the war he moved to Texas where he worked at Baylor University and Baylor Female College.  This painting of the Battle of San Jacinto is his most famous work.  In one version Sam Houston is shown waving his hat.  Completed in 1875 the original painting hung in the Texas State Capitol building until the building was destroyed in a fire in 1881.  McArdle completed another version in 1905 featuring Davy Crockett, James Bowie and William B. Travis.  Both paintings were purchased from the family by the State of Texas after McArdle’s death and now hang in the Senate Chamber of the Texas State Capitol.  The painting on the postcard above most closely appears to resemble the 1895 version.

The battle was held in what is today Harris County, Texas with General Sam Houston leading the Texan Army against President and General Antonio López de Santa Anna’s Mexican Army.  As mentioned above the battle lasted approximately 18 minutes.  Santa Anna was captured and surrendered the following day.  He was held as prisoner of war for three weeks then signed the peace treaty that paved the way for the Republic of Texas to become an independent country.  Sam Houston became a national celebrity and the cries of “Remember the Alamo!” and “Remember Goliad!”  became part of Texan legend.

Here are a few pictures of the State Capitol building and grounds from our trip to Austin in April 2015.  Thanks to my brother,his wife and their new in-law for finding and sharing the postcard.

 Texas State Capitol Building

 Senate Chamber, Texas State Capitol

Capitol Building and grounds

 Civil War Cannon

 House of Representatives

 Looking down on the State Seal and lower balconies

Looking up at the dome

For additional information about McArdle and the Battle of San Jacinto, see:

Thursday, January 21, 2016

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 230

Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun, Colorado Springs, Colorado, ca 1935

The linen type, tinted postcard above of the Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun in Colorado Springs, Colorado dates from the 1930s. 
Thanks to my brother and his wife for sending this card to me together with several others they found in Austin, Texas while there last April.  This card caught my eye partly because the tower is from the same era as the Mt. Constitution Tower on Orcas Island and a replica of another similar one at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Preserve near Austin, Texas.

The photographer is Harold Sanborn who took photographs comparable to those by Ansel Adams and William Henry Jackson.  Sandborn then turned his pictures into penny postcards beginning in the early 1920s to the 1950s, selling them in drug stores and other retail outlets.  Many of his pictures were landscapes and were real photos not halftone hence the resolution is better.  The collection is worth approximately $500,000.00 today and contains 40,000 postcards, hundreds of negatives and transparencies together with detailed notes on each image.  Derick Wangaard, who has owned the collection since he bought it from Sanborn's widow, Betty, is selling it partly because it is starting to deteriorate and needs to go somewhere it can be maintained such as an historical society.  Because it is considered a invaluable resource and a Colorado treasure the Colorado Historical Society is trying to make sure this rare collection remains in the state.  One hopes they will be successful.

The Shrine was named for American humorist Will Rogers who died in a plane crash the same year the structure was being built.  Images of his life and are displayed throughout upper three stories of the interior.  Painted murals by Randall Davy depicting the area’s history, people and events occupy the first floor and the first two levels of stairways.  In a chapel below the first level European works of art from the 15th and 16th century are displayed.  The five story observation tower overlooks The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs and Garden of the Gods.  Completed in 1937 it is situated on a promontory of the mountain at 8,136 feet or 2.480 meters elevation on the Cheyenne Mountain Highway and has views of Pikes Peak, Colorado Springs and the plains.  The shrine is also the tomb for Spencer and Julie Penrose who were instrumental in the development of Colordao Springs.  Eric Bransby restored the Davy murals in 1994 and that same year the shrine was also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Westminster chimes are played on a vibraharp are played every quarter hour and can be heard 20 miles away.  At night floodlights illuminate the tower.


For more information, see:

Thursday, January 14, 2016

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 229

UW Biology Station, Friday Harbor, ca 1915

This early photograph was made into a postcard and published by Arcadia Publishing Co.  It shows the Friday Harbor Laboratories, a biology research station of the University of Washington, located at Friday Harbor on San Juan Island as it looked around 1915.  Zoology Professor Trevor Kincaid started searching for a suitable site for such a facility in 1903 and was impressed by the wealth of sea life found in the San Juan Islands.  Captain Warbass loaned a cabin to Kincaid and another UW professor, T. C. Frye, a botanist, in 1904 and the station was founded that same year.  In the beginning they had some furniture, a stove, blankets for the cabin, equipment for a darkroom and a rowboat.  Tents were set up for sleeping. 

Originally no formal classes were taught only a 6 week summer field study with about a dozen students.  Today the lab is well known for its short, intensive summer classes for graduate students from around the world that cover marine biology and other marine sciences, such as Marine Algae, Marine Invertebrate Zoology, Comparative Invertebrate Embryology, Marine Conservation Biology, Functional Morphology and Ecology of Marine Fishes, Invertebrate Larval Ecology, Experimental and Field Approaches in Biology and Paleontology, plus other current topics in marine science and oceanography.  Classes are also taught during the spring and fall terms for advanced undergraduates and graduate students.  The summer session is 5 weeks, spring and fall classes run 10 weeks and feature an original research component.  Friday Harbor Laboratories also has a small resident scientific staff and offers year-round laboratory, library and housing accommodations for visiting researchers and their families.

In the early years students slept in tents without flooring that can be seen on the hillside in the postcard picture.  The lab was outside on a 3 X 10 foot table.  The structure on the water in the photo was built in 1910 to house the labs and lecture halls.  The second large building on the hillside was added in 1911 and contained additional lecture spaces, administrative offices and a dining hall.  Wooden floors were eventually added to the tents where the students slept. 

For an interesting centennial timeline and general information, see:

Thursday, January 7, 2016

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 228

 Crystal Palace, London, England, ca 1915

Shown on this postcard is the Crystal Palace in London, England.  W. Straker, Ltd. of London, an Office Supplies and Stationery Company founded in 1863 produced the card.  Like many companies that sold stationery W. Straker also printed cards.  This black & white postcard is dated ca 1915. 

The Crystal Palace was commissioned for the Great Exhibition of 1851.  Joseph Paxton, who was primarily a gardener, designed the cast-iron and plate-glass structure.   Paxton planned a layout of gardens, fountains, terraces and cascades but these all required thousands of gallons of water that proved too heavy for the original water tanks and they collapsed.  Isambard Kingdo Brunel, an engineer, was consulted to solve the problem and he came up with the two giant water towers shown on either side of the building.  Each tower supported water that was gathered from three reservoirs.  The Queen who was present when the fountains and cascades were opened got wet when a gust of wind blew spray over the royal carriage. 

The name came about as a result of an article written by playwright Douglas Jerrold who referred to the 1851 Exhibition a “palace of very crystal.”  The name was repeated so often that it was called that even before the project had been approved.  The Palace was erected in Hyde Park for the exhibition and stayed there until 1854 when it was rebuilt in an enlarged form on Penge Common.  It was there until it was destroyed by fire in 1936.  In 2013 there was a proposal to re-build the Crystal Palace but it was cancelled in 2015.  The park, however, still contains the Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins’s Crystal Palace Dinosaurs from 1854.   Hawkins was an English sculptor and natural history artist.  The 33 life-sized dinosaur models at the Crystal Palace Park were made using the most modern scientific knowledge of that time and created a sensation at the exhibition.

For more information, see:

Monday, January 4, 2016

Lake Easton - XC skiing

Bob has anxiously been waiting for enough snow in the mountains to go skiing.  He went to Hyak to do downhill on Wednesday last week and announced that there was enough snow for us to do cross-country skiing on Friday.  Plans were made to try Lake Easton State Park, a mostly level easy cross-country area for beginners like me, located on the east side of Snoqualmie Pass.  Since it is a State Park it requires a Discover Pass and also a Sno-Park pass during skiing season.  Once off the freeway the drive through the woods was magical and gorgeous with a snow covered road and trees.

Last year we did not have enough snow for any of the cross-country ski trails to be open and groomed and there was barely enough for Bob to downhill ski a few times.  This year we have lovely snow already.  It was a clear, sunny, brisk 12 degrees F when we parked the car but after a couple of hours it was up to 20 degrees F.  My hands were so cold in the beginning that I did not want to take off gloves to use the camera which meant Bob had to take all the pictures.  Hands and feet warmed up quickly with the exercise and all was well.  

We had hiked here at the beginning of November when the lake was at low water level and there was no snow.  Now the water in the lake is frozen and covered with snow except for where the river enters. 

Along the trail there are signs and markers to identify the destinations and levels of difficulty.  

I am still a complete novice so we stuck to the blue (easy) trails and did approximately 3 miles round trip.  We had hoped to make it to the big bridge but met two men on snowshoes who said the bridge was closed and the grooming stopped just before the bridge.  We went to the end of the groomed trail then turned around and returned to the car.  Not too bad for a first time out.  No falls either much to my relief.  At one point when the return trail looked steep and had a curve at the bottom Bob suggested that I take off my skis and walk down to avoid a possible fall.   I was happy to follow his suggestion and ended the day with only the expected few achy stiff muscles and no bruises.

The groomed trails (with tracks for xc skis) follow along side the frozen snow covered lake and wind in and out amongst the trees.  Although there were lots of cars in the sno-park area most folks seemed to be using the snow play area for sledding and tubing.  There were a few people on snowshoes and a few xc skiers but it was not over crowded at all.  

There was even a group of people having a picnic in freezing weather!

The ride home on the freeway